Friday, July 08, 2016

2016 WIMBLEDON: Women's Final Preview and Semifinals Review

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs. Angelique Kerber (GER) [4]
Here are my predictions for the women's final at the Wimbledon Championships for 2016. Last year I correctly predicted Serena Williams would beat Garbine Muguruza in the final.  This year I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals, and 2 of 2 women's semifinals and 1 of 2 men's semifinals.

Women's Semifinals Review
Serena Williams (USA) [1] dElena Vesnina RUS 6-2 6-0. Ever since Serena was pushed to the brink in her much-delayed 2nd round match against Christina McHale last Friday she has looked exceedingly sharp, and has handed out a bagel 6-0 set in three of her four subsequent matches. (Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova actually did quite well to only lose 4-6 4-6 in the quarterfinals.) Serena was ruthless in this semifinal, racking up 4-0 leads in both sets. In the first set, Serena let off the gas slightly, but after winning that set, she decided to get stingy and refused to lose another game. She ended the match by hitting winners at will, ending up with 11 aces (28 winners overall) to just 7 unforced errors. 

Angelique Kerber (GER) [4] d. Venus Williams (USA) [8] 6-4 6-4.  Not all 6-4 sets are the same. For example, the first set of this match involved many more service breaks than service holds, although in the end Kerber held her service just one more time more than she lost it. There was palpable uncertainty about who would win the first set until the very end. However, in the second set (which ostensibly had the same score, there never really seemed to be any doubt that Kerber would win the set, it was just a matter of time.) Although Venus did quite well to reach her first major semifinal in six years but she did it at this tournament by only beating one player who was a (former) Top 10 player, in Carla Suarez Navarro. Once Venus had to face someone who was clearly more highly ranked, she was unable to bring out her best tennis and her tournament was over.

Women's Final Preview
Both players understand the historical ramifications of this match. Serena is obviously trying to write her name in the record book as the best player of all time by winning her 22nd major. Kerber is trying to prevent that from happening, and just so happens to be from the same country (Germany) that the current recordholder, Steffi Graf is from. Head-to-head, Serena leads Kerber 5-2 and despite the fact that she lost to her in their very last meeting (which was in the 2016 Australian Open final), she is definitely the favorite in this match. She has already won six Wimbledon titles (and lost 2 other Wimbledon finals) in her career and her game is very well-suited to grass. However, she has also lost the last two major finals she has played, either of which if she had won would have ended her race to #22 already. 

We all know that tennis success is a melange of physical and mental prowess so physically, this should not be any problem for Serena, but the mental challenge clearly trumped the physical in the 2015 US Open semifinal as well the 2016 Australian Open final. (In the 2016 French Open final it was Muguruza's physical prowess, more than Serena's emotional frailty which resulted in her win over Serena.)

Some champions love to win, while others hate to lose. I'm pretty sure that Serena is one of those people who hates to lose. She definitely hates to lose to the same person twice in a row. That will be enough of an impetus to pull her through to a win tomorrow.

MadProfessah's prediction: Serena.

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